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Highlighting USGS Science Geological Society of America(GSA) Meeting October 25-29, 1998 Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South
Released: 10/23/1998

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Marion Fisher 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4583 | FAX: 703-648-6859

Diane Noserale 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4333 (GSA News Room-Toronto) 416-361-3706

The future of energy reserves; coal-burning effects on health and the environment; earthquake hazards, economic losses, and natural disaster insurance; new views of Mars; and a session dedicated to the memory of internationally recognized geologist, William (Bill) Slater....and more!

Sunday, October 25

1:30 - 5:30 p.m. Room: MTCC 715AB

Session 4: IEE Annual Environmental Forum: The Sustainability Challenge: Energy for the 21st Century Are we running out of OIL? The GSA Critical Issues Committee will sponsor a Sustainability Conference to highlight research and differing opinions from government and private sector experts on the future of energy reserves. USGS World Energy Assessment project chief and scientist, Thomas Ahlbrandt, will lead off the conference with a report on the USGS assessment of undiscovered world oil and gas energy resources, a discussion of the many ways in which resource estimates are made, and how variable the estimates can be. Since the United States depends heavily on international supplies of petroleum, USGS scientists are actively involved in debates concerning the quantity and quality of undiscovered oil and gas resources around the world. Topics to be discussed include predictions of oil and gas production peaks in the next century, the petroleum industry’s response to the anticipated decline, alternative energy sources, and the political realities of the world’s shrinking oil and gas supply.

Monday, October 26

8:00 a.m. Room: MTCC Hall E Booth # 101
Session 23: Breaking Down Barriers: Communicating Relevant Geoscience Issues to the Public I (Posters)

Although the size and frequency of earthquakes have not increased over the long term and improvements in building codes and public preparedness have reduced loss of life from earthquakes, economic losses are increasing at an alarming rate, particularly in California. Why is this occurring? An interdisciplianry team from the state of California and the USGS discuss the reasons and programs to translate knowledge on the location of earthquake hazards into reduced economic losses in this session (See also Session 64: Breaking Down Barriers: Communicating Relevant Geoscience Issues to the Public II)

8:00 a.m. Room: MTCC 803AB
Session 19: Paleoecological and Geochemical Signature of Cretaceous Anoxic Events: A Memorial to William (Bill) V. Sliter by the Cushman Foundation and the 1998 Annual Meeting Committee

The late William (Bill) V. Sliter, a research geologist for both the USGS and the Geological Survey of Canada, is honored on the opening day of the 1998 annual GSA meeting with this keynote symposium dedicated to his memory. A memorial presentation, attended by many of Sliter’s friends; professional colleagues; and his widow, Trish Sliter of Palo Alto, California; will take place after the session. Sliter was an internationally recognized authority on microscopic fossils known as foraminifera. The memorial to Sliter is sponsored by the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 27

9:15 am Room: MTCC 703
Session 60: Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences: A Ten-Year Vision - NRC; NSF; "The Earth Science Century"

"In much the same way the 20th century has been the century of physics, the stage is set for the 21st century to be the century of the earth sciences", says Steven R. Bohlen, USGS Associate Chief Geologist for Scientific Programs. Our need for, and reliance upon, natural resources, our concern for environmental quality, our concern for human health, and our rising concern for the health of the planet all point toward the potential emergence of the earth sciences, according to Bohlen. Mary Lou Zoback, USGS scientist and National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member presents this vision of the future and the fundamental changes and areas of success needed to achieve that vision, and its links with the Science Strategy for future efforts in USGS geology programs.

Wednesday, October 28

11:15 a.m. Room: MTCC 709
Session 109: Landslides and Engineering Geology: Earthquakes and Natural Disaster Insurance

Because losses from natural disasters, including earthquakes, cost an average of $1 billion per week in the United States, it is crucial that insurance premiums are calculated correctly, according to Thomas Holzer, a USGS engineering geologist in Menlo Park, California. According to Holzer, " If the premiums are set too low, company insolvency may result. If they are set too high, potential customers may decline to buy insurance and thus thwart the mitigation strategy." In this session on earthquakes and insurance for natural disasters, Holzer explains technical assessments known as "earthquake loss models" which estimate future losses that must be offset with premiums. In order to obtain credible results from the earthquake models, the insurance industry is relying on earth scientists and geotechnical engineers to develop and validate the computer models.

Thursday, October 29

11:20 a.m. Room: MTCC 718AB
Session 146: Pathfinder and Global Surveyor: New Views of Mars: Rewriting the Book? What is New on Mars after 20 Years?

Michael Carr and Mary Chapman, two USGS astrogeologists, discuss scientists’ changing perceptions of the Red Planet, based on early returns from the Mars Global Surveyor mission. According to Chapman, water from ancient rivers flowing across the Red Planet may still exist in the form of ice beneath rock-covered basins near the equator of Mars. She explains that subsurface water or ice at equatorial latitudes is suggested by very young channels emanating from hypothetical basalt outcrops. By posing the possibility of the presence of water, Chapman has concluded that life may possibly exist in some form on the planet. In addition, Carr describes the presence of dunes almost everywhere on the Mars surface and explains his theory that huge plains once contained large bodies of water.

8:00 a.m. Room: MTCC 703
Session 147: Symposium on Environmental Quality vs. Economic Development: The Role of Coal in Developing Nations

What price does the developing world pay for its economic growth? Scientists from government agencies, universities, and the private sector in the U.S., China, Canada, and Russia will consider this question during a symposium hosted by the USGS. "Economic growth increases energy demand," says symposium chairman Dr. Allan Kolker of the USGS. "In many developing countries, this demand is met by burning coal, which has led to new environmental and human-health problems. While most of the session is concerned with geologic approaches to these problems, we will be considering everything from cleaner-burning technologies to the impact of coal use on global warming," says Kolker.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Interviews with USGS presenters during the GSA meeting can be arranged by leaving a message for the presenter or the contacts above on the GSA news room bulletin board, or by calling the newsroom at 416-361-3706.)

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